Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Just got back from a NaPro talk. :)

Yay! I just got back from a NaPro presentation right here in Phoenix.

Knowing all of my blogger friends really got me interested in all of it a few months ago, and then I found out that one of my friends here in town (a doctor and a mom at my kids' school) has been training with Dr. Hilgers and PPVI to become certified FertilityCare practitioner (hope I'm using the right term). She is now working to find a surgeon who can serve the Phoenix area. Our bishop is very much in favor of bringing NaPro here.

It was truly amazing to see the overview, philosophy and practices of NaPro Technology and sort of fill in the blanks from all that I have learned on the blogs. I'm getting a feeling for how you all chart, and all the blood series you get, u/s series, etc. Wow! Impressive! (Now I won't be so confused when I read the technical parts of your posts!)

We have zero Creighton teachers in the area, but they will soon be training two (again, thank you, Bishop Olmsted!).

If people knew about NaPro they would never go the IVF route, or use the Pill for painful periods, endo, etc.

Anyway, I have known about PPVI for many years (and I always had recommended it to anyone who had reproductive problems), but all you bloggers have really helped to educate me on the details, protocols and effectiveness. Most importantly, the beauty and logic of it!

I hope I can do my part to spread the word.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

I HATE the Essure commercials!

The "Essure" commercials disgust me. Babies are not vermin. They are gifts.

The first time I saw an Essure commercial, I stopped and stared, not believing what I was seeing and hearing. My jaw literally dropped.

Picture this: A beautiful mom with her beautiful kids are frolicking on a sports field. Suddenly, the mother looks positively stricken! She stops, looking pale, and thinks: "What if I got PREGNANT?! Everything would CHANGE!!" She is horrified! She may faint! She may vomit! Finally, she "pushes" those evil thoughts of pregnancy away, knowing that Essure will give her "permanent birth control" and she won't ever soil her perfect family with a new baby! Whew!!!! Her smile returns! Cue the photos of the doting mom loving on her three perfect children as they skip away down the lane with dad, relieved and joyful that no more dreaded babies will ruin their perfect plan!

Cue to me looking horrified, as now I want to vomit! Really? A baby is so much vermin that would infest the perfect, small family? Our hearts are that tiny, our love that limited?

I first mentioned my disgust with this ad campaign on Facebook. I typed the following:

It's the guise of the "family and child friendly" that really gets me! As if bringing another sibling into the family is something evil! A baby as unwanted intruder set to destroy a "perfect" family. My goodness, there is no greater gift you can give your children than siblings!

I kid you not: As I typed, my fifth, sixth and seventh children were planting wet kisses on my eighth. My nine-year-old son asked, "Mom, isn't he the
cutest?!" Ironic, no? Somehow, my children don't see their baby brother as a threat to their happiness or a detriment to our family. Quite the opposite!

How did we get to this low point? Commercials about babies being destructive, calamitous intruders into a marriage and family? Do the advertising geniuses not realize that they are on the one hand showcasing children as this woman's treasures and source of joy, while on the other hand suggesting that any further children are no better than an unwanted and dangerous infection against which she needs protection?

(Totally illogical. I hate illogical.)

In my last post, I lauded the incredible ladies I've met in blogland who would give anything for babies and motherhood. How painful to them must these crass and thoughtless commercials be? Although I guess when the advertised product is literally an anti-baby product, it's going to cause pain to any of us who find children to be the most precious gift that God can bestow. It hits right in the gut, the same way it did when Obama so famously talked about not wanting his daughters to be "punished with a baby." That's what we've come to.... babies as punishment, babies as the cause of ruin for a happy family.

If you haven't seen these offensive commercials (or heard them on the radio), be glad. They will make any right-thinking person sick. A few minutes ago, another one came on (TLC seems to carry them a lot), and my nine-year-old saw it (not for the first time). When I tucked him in bed and told him I loved him, I made extra sure to tell him how much I cherish him, because children are such a gift. He replied, "Mom, did you see that commercial where that mom just pushed those words away on the screen, where she was all depressed if she were pregnant, and then she was all 'Whew!' that can all go away now!" I told him I had seen it, and isn't it so sad how they portrayed pregnancy and children? He replied, "When I saw it, I was literally just glaring at the TV!"

That's my boy! He has not yet been tainted by our Planned Parenthood culture and has an instinctive, healthy aversion to the Culture of Death which surrounds him.

God protect his innocence, and God change the hearts of those who peddle Essure. I have to believe that they know not what they do.

Now that I've taken so much time thinking about those ads, I feel like I need to go take a cleansing shower. Or hug my babies. Or read the Bible which talks about children as only and always a gift, and never as something repellent or repulsive....

Sigh.



Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why I love the IF bloggers!!

Well, okay, there are lots of reasons I love 'em, but after reading this post and the amazing comments that follow, one reason jumped out at me.

These wonderful ladies get it! Meaning, they get the crux of everything... life!

They grieve the loss of their fertility precisely because they understand what a precious gift it is. Their loss would not be so great if the gift withheld were not so good.

We live in a culture where people throw away fertility with both hands via contraception and sterilization. (And that comes just one step before throwing away life itself via abortion.)

In our culture, fertility is seen and treated as a disease instead of the blessing that it is. We even have pills and surgeries to "fix" it. (As if something were broken? Hello?)

When so many women can't sterilize themselves fast enough, the IF bloggers stand as a beacon of light and a sign of contradiction. Mourning the loss of fertility is right order. The women who understand that have been given a great and precious gift.

I don't pity my infertile friends. I pity the others, who don't know enough or care enough to cherish fertility as the precious and undeserved gift that it is.

So, without wanting to sound corny, I want to thank my dear IF friends for cherishing what should be cherished, and mourning what should be mourned! I admire you so, and you are surely pleasing to God, Who is the Author of Life!

You guys rock!!! :)


Monday, April 19, 2010

Powerful

To embryos everywhere: Four reasons you might be aborted.

My favorite line: "Unlike embryos, money can't be created in a Petri dish."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ten Random Things About My Husband

Continuing the tradition that Ann started, here are ten random things about my dear husband....

1. He is a neat freak. If he had his way, he would live in a shiny chrome room with leather furniture and not one bit of clutter! He can find a dirt speck on a baseboard from 200 feet and beeline over to scrape it away. (This does not mean our house is pristine; we have many messy people living in it. Toys are strewn about, clothes flung hither and thither, bodily fluids/strange substances cling to surfaces. Poor DH!)

2. He used to be a "pro-choice" Democrat who not only campaigned for Harry Reid while a teen living in Vegas, but also interned for Jimmy Carter at the Carter Center in Atlanta. When we met, he was interning for Democratic Senator Wyche Fowler. Now, he is as conservative as they come -- listening to talk radio, praying at abortion mills, championing fiscal responsibility and traditional morality at all times. Who says people can't change?

3. He was an agnostic Jew when we married in 1990. Seven years later, he was baptized, confirmed and received the Eucharist on my 30th birthday! Best birthday of my life. It was Easter Vigil, and I was his RCIA teacher! He is now a devout and faithful Catholic whose prayer life and spirituality put me to shame.

4. He is not sentimental at all. Lots of stories I could tell about that! But his lack of sentimentality does not mean he is cold or unloving. He just does not attach great meaning or value to things like pictures, cards, trinkets, souvenirs, etc. I will not risk his good reputation by telling you that he once (accidentally?) threw out a stuffed animal that I received on the day of my birth! No, I will not recount the sad fate of Ellie!

5. He is the hardest working man I know. He works hard at his job, he works hard at the gym, and he works hard around the house. He does the majority of the shopping, cooking, cleaning, yard work, house/car maintenance and bill paying. He has worked this hard since he was a boy. I am grateful for his work ethic, as I am a little more, shall we say, relaxed in that area.

6. He loves to make goofy, almost unbearable word puns. For example, if someone announces that they are going to sit down to watch Flags of Our Fathers, he will say, "Oh, you are going to watch Banners of Our Mothers?" I know... it's cringe-worthy stuff. It gets worse than that, but I can't think of any other examples offhand. You can pretty much make the same kind of puns yourself though, based on my example. It's not difficult. At all.

7. He has worked for years in the rather slimy, often corrupt world of politicians and lobbyists. In all those years, he has kept his integrity and is known as a straight-shooting, honorable and trustworthy man. I am proud of him. People sometimes ask him when he is going to run for office. He always says that he never will, because he is not interested in BSing. He would never make it as a politician!

8. He falls asleep in public all the time. It is legendary around these parts. He has undergone a sleep study and had surgery on his septum, but he still sleeps. He sleeps during mass, during school functions, during plays, concerts, movies and pool parties. He used to sleep in class during college. One of the kids' yearbooks has a picture of him sleeping during the day on a camping trip. People love taking pictures of him sleeping. In case you are wondering, he was told he is not a narcoleptic. And, he does not snore.

9. He is a huge fan of country music. This is a passion we both came to later in our marriage, and it's a passion that's fun to share. He especially likes Keith Urban, Sugarland, Lady Antebellum and the Zac Brown Band. Funny taste for an urban Hebrew Catholic!

10. He puts up with me (poor man!), generally without complaint. My blog reading/writing, my emailing, my matchmaking escapades, my sloth, my little piles of paper and clothing, my petty criticisms, my demands... he accepts it all and loves me anyway.

We will be married 20 years in July, and I sure don't deserve such a wonderful man!! Thank you, God, that I have him anyway!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Knowing God's Will, and Catholic Freedom


Note: Please feel free to let me know if I ever misrepresent a tenet of our Catholic Faith. I will correct my mistake immediately.

Among my real life friends and my blogger friends, I've noticed that many devout Catholics get very stressed out in trying to discern God's will: Should I adopt this particular baby, should I marry this particular man, should I take this job, should I move, should I (fill in the blank)? How do I make sure that this choice is God's will and not my own? Ack! Help!

It's a very great thing to want to do God's will in all things, and it's nothing short of inspiring to hear and feel the sincerity of these pure-hearted women. My friends are my spiritual mentors in so many ways. I have learned and grown so much from them. Hugs and kisses to you all!

However, I started to notice that many faithful Catholics are so afraid they might somehow step outside of God's will that they become anxiety-ridden. The angst they feel in not wanting to offend God by making the "wrong" choice is severe, and it can be debilitating.

But we are Catholics, and that kind of burden is unnecessary! Here is what is so liberating about our Catholic Faith: When our intentions are good and the choices before us are moral, we are free.

Let me restate it another way: As long as we are not choosing something evil, or for evil intent, we are free to embrace any path that God opens before us. So, you are free to choose to adopt that baby, to marry that man, to move, to take that job, or any other morally licit option. You are also free to choose not to adopt that baby, take that new job, marry that man, etc.

This is the beauty of Catholicism. Our free will is a great gift that God gives us, allowing us the dignity to choose our own path, as long as we do not choose sin. Sin is the only thing that offends God, the only thing that he will not bless, and the only thing that is not within His active will for us. If we are not choosing sin, then we remain in a state of grace. This is a beautiful, liberating truth, which leaves little room for fear and anxiety!

But then, of course, the question becomes: How do we choose between two moral options?

Well, remember, we are talking about two moral and licit options (immoral choices are never acceptable). If God places two or more moral choices before us, then we should go with the choice which brings us the most internal peace. If we feel more tranquility at the thought of choosing Option A, then we go with Option A, even if Option A may actually cause us more external suffering or hardship than Option B.

But wait! This is important…. Even if a soul should "miss" whatever path God may have originally laid out for him/her (i.e., some people do miss their calling as a priest or religious), that person still has not committed a sin if his/her intentions were good. This is so important for people to know, especially the scrupulous. God will work with whatever path we have put ourselves on. He is not a puppet master pulling our strings. He is a loving Father who makes all things work for good for those who love Him.

Think about it: If I am a healthy parent, I will be happy to support my child whether he chooses to be a doctor or an artist or a carpenter. Those are all honorable goals. (Though I lean toward doctor, ha ha! Wait....maybe not under Obamacare....hmmmmm.) Anyway, you get my point, right?

So, enjoy the freedom of being a Catholic, as we are so blessed and have true freedom. We are not shackled slaves who have no liberty or choices (as so many people think of Catholics). I've lived both in the Church and outside of it, and the difference in peace and freedom is night and day.



Just for fun, and only tangentially related to this post, I will leave you with two amazing quotes from the great G.K. Chesterton (convert from atheism):


"The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man
from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.
"

"[When the convert] has entered the Church, he finds that the Church is much larger inside than it is outside."


Monday, April 12, 2010

A disappointing eureka

Okay, I promise at some point I will write a funny, light-hearted post! But for some reason I am just ticked off and incredulous about things these days, ha ha!! (Wait... who am I kidding? I am a social and political commentator at heart, so you will be getting a lot of ticked off, incredulous posts if you read this blog! You are forewarned!!)

All right, as many of you know, I am a bit of a frustrated yenta. I fancy myself a Catholic matchmaker, but so far.... well, we don't need to talk about that now. My glory days will come. :)

Suffice to say, I have some familiarity with two of the Catholic online dating services, Ave Maria Singles and Catholic Match. More familiarity with AMS than CM. I think in general the sites have been wonderfully successful in helping Catholics find spouses.

For years I have heard that CM has more socially "normal" men utilizing their site, but that the CM men dissent from Church teaching in far greater numbers than the men on AMS. Recently, I have had two of my single girlfriends confirm this for me.

First, I read this post from A Friend of Gianna's blog. Disturbing, for sure. My first thought was: "Why the heck does this guy even stay Catholic?" I mean really, what's the point in saying you are Catholic if you reject what the Church teaches? Isn't that like saying, "I'm a vegetarian, but I am committed to eating meat"?

Then, the other day, another single friend mentioned the phenomenon of the "5 out of 7" on Catholic Match. Meaning, a good percentage of the men describe themselves as being in agreement with five out of seven important Catholic beliefs. And it's usually the same five out of seven. The pattern, she said, goes like this:

Eucharist:Yes, I accept the Church's teaching
Contraception:No, I do not accept the Church's teaching
Sanctity of Life:Yes, I accept the Church's teaching
Papal Infallibility:Yes, I accept the Church's teaching
Premarital Sex:No, I do not accept the Church's teaching
Immaculate Conception:Yes, I accept the Church's teaching
Holy Orders:Yes, I accept the Church's teaching



Five out of seven. But how bizarre, I thought. How can it be that a man could accept the Church's teaching on the Immaculate Conception, but not on pre-marital sex? After all, the teaching against fornication is explicit in the Bible (Jesus' own words!) and is generally accepted by Protestant Christianity as well. How could someone doubt or dismiss that teaching, while having no problem with the trickier concepts of the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility? Of course I understood that it was all about the men wanting to have lots of sex, but still... I could see struggling to live out Church teaching, admitting that the teaching is a difficult one, but outright rejecting it? As if it weren't true? That just seemed illogical.

I continued to be frustrated and annoyed by this, and couldn't put my finger on it. I shared my frustrations with my hubby. His response was immediate.

“That’s easy. Those are the two items that involve personal sacrifice.”
Eureka.

And there lies one piece of the crisis of Catholic manhood. If it involves any kind of real sacrifice, then "it's not true for me" even if God says it is true for all.

Sigh.

It ain't pretty, but at least I understand it now.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thoughts on the Church sex scandal. Part Two.

Part Two, and a final (obvious) revelation at the end....


(For Part One, go here.)

Third: The Church’s initial responses were in line with the times.

At the time most of the abuse occurred (again, decades ago), the standard response was to quietly try to rehabilitate the offender through counseling. This was the accepted psychology at the time, and that is how therapists advised Church officials (and everyone else of that era). Of course, we now know that sex offenders are generally not able to be rehabilitated, and they almost always re-offend. But how was the Church to know something that no one else at the time knew, either? Yet the Church is excoriated while everyone else, doing the same thing, gets a pass.

Fourth: The Church has been hyper-aggressive in addressing the problem.

In fact, I have never seen or heard of any organization which has gone so far overboard in policing itself after similar allegations.

Overboard?

Yes, in some cases, overboard. Let me explain.

When the first wave of the abuse scandal swept the nation, dioceses sprang into action, setting up mandatory sexual abuse prevention and awareness programs for anyone and everyone involved in paid or voluntary positions within parishes, schools, ministries and other Church entities. These programs are often long and tedious, and everyone must become re-certified each year. The Church wants to right the wrongs, and has gone to great lengths to do so.

Which brings me to the “overboard.”

A few years ago, I was told about a policy which mandated that I could not be alone with the teen girl I was sponsoring for Confirmation. There had to be a parent or other adult present if we were together, even outside of a Church setting.

Mind you, the girl I was sponsoring was the daughter of close family friends. I had known her since she was six weeks old, and she was my daughter’s best friend of fifteen years. Now the Church was telling me that I, a regular suburban mom with no criminal background, needed a chaperone to be with a family friend, even in a public place!

I couldn’t believe this was right. I thought it was unjust (and just absurd). I called a friend who worked in the diocesan offices, and he confirmed that it was true. A sponsor for Confirmation was “a representative of the Catholic Church,” and as such, we had to be above suspicion in every circumstance.

So, yup, I think the Church has gone above and beyond in addressing the problem. And the fact that there are virtually no new cases of priestly sexual abuse is a good indication that she has largely righted the wrong.

Fifth: Church teaching on sexuality is right, and is the antidote to the sex scandal.

I “discovered” my Catholic Faith in 1995, many years before the priest abuse scandal hit the headlines. Back then, I was reading a conservative Catholic newspaper called The Wanderer, which was already reporting on the problem of sexual deviants in the priesthood. That’s right -- the faithful, magisterial Catholics in America were already decrying the scandal of active homosexuals in the clergy, who in addition to being unchaste were pushing for a “progressive sexual ethic” in the Church (i.e., they wanted the Church to ditch her teachings on sexual sin).

So, the idea that the secular media broke this story is not exactly true, as I and other Catholics had known about it for years. Faithful Catholics were trying to expose it! We knew something rotten and dangerous had infiltrated the priesthood.

The fact is, many seminaries had become corrupted after the mid ‘60s. Until recently, they had for decades turned away orthodox, faithful candidates for the priesthood, preferring instead to foster a culture of homosexuality.

It’s a difficult read, but if anyone wants a look inside the seminaries of that time, check out Goodbye, Good Men, which describes what went wrong with several decades of priestly formation. With a culture of homosexuality being the norm in many seminaries for so long, is it any wonder that a whopping 80% of the priest-abuse victims were male? Mostly pubescent and post-pubescent males at that. Please note: I am not asserting that homosexuals are prone to abusing children, but I am saying that most of the priestly abuse was homosexual abuse.

Priests who committed sexual sins against children were acting against Church teaching. They were committing mortal sin, which the Church teaches is deserving of an eternity in hell. Had these predator priests lived according to to the teachings of the Church, not a single child would have been harmed.

The ones howling the loudest about the shame the Church should feel are the sexual libertines themselves. The free sex crowd who rail against the Church’s “repressive” sexual teachings don’t seem to recognize that it’s the “anything goes” mentality of sexuality that leads to, well... anything! Ah, the irony.

Anyway, these posts are much too long. I have much more to say, but I won’t. Because as I was writing, I realized the obvious about the Church-bashers:

It doesn’t matter to them that the reporting on Church abuse is grossly disproportionate compared to other offenders.

It doesn’t matter to them that there is no link between celibacy and sexual abuse.

It doesn’t matter to them that the Church’s initial reaction was in line with the conventional wisdom at the time.

It doesn’t matter to them that the Church has been incredibly aggressive in addressing the problem.

It doesn’t matter to them that living according to the Church’s teaching on sexuality is the answer to all sexual deviance, including sex abuse of children.

It doesn’t matter, because those who are attacking the Catholic Church now also hated the Church well before the scandals ever broke.

The Church-bashers will keep on bashing the Church, and nothing I write here -- no matter if it’s true, no matter if it’s logical -- will change their hearts. Only God can do that.

So, we Catholics must remember Jesus’ promise that the Church would be hated by the world. It should not surprise us or worry us. We should wear it as a badge of honor, and take the humiliation. Sometimes, it’s the Christian thing to do.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thoughts on the Church sex scandal. Part One.

Please note: In no way, shape or form do I defend or excuse sexual predators and child abusers, whether members of the clergy or not. If you know anything about me, you know that those who harm children are the lowest form of scum in my book.

Also, when I ask questions in my posts, I really am looking for logical answers (keyword, "logical"). So, if there are any Church-bashers out there, help me understand your points. I welcome the dialogue.

Like many of you, my heart hurts to read the recent embarrassing, scandalous headlines about the Catholic Church. The purpose of this post is not to discuss the culpability of any one priest or bishop, or to hash out the details of what Pope Benedict did or didn't do. If you are interested in that part of the story, I suggest you start here. Then, you can click on the many links on that page which will expand on that topic. I especially recommend the aforementioned reading if you have thus far only gotten your information from the New York Times, which is (how to say this kindly?) a tad biased and perhaps agenda-driven in its "reporting" of the "facts."

So, for a little perspective, maybe some logic, on the priest sex scandal in general? Let me just throw out some random thoughts that have been swirling in my brain for some time....

First: The reporting is grossly disproportionate.

I have been a Catholic for 43 years, and I know tons of Catholics. I know it's only anecdotal, but to my knowledge, no one I know personally has been sexually abused by a priest. However, I personally know many people who have been sexually abused by family members, by teachers, by neighbors and by camp counselors. Is it so crazy to question why all the media attention is only on the Catholic Church's offenders (especially considering that the vast majority of cases are decades-old)? And, come to think of it, don't Protestant clergy offend, too?

It seems to me that if the press wants to investigate a vast hotbed of ongoing, right now child sex abuse, with the number of abusers far eclipsing those of the priest scandal, they could just look to the American public schools. Check out this AP story, and then tell me where all the sensationalized headlines are? The failure to sanction or arrest teacher-molesters is routine, and the practice of quietly reassigning these sexual predators to new, unsuspecting schools is so sickeningly common that it actually has a name -- "passing the trash." If the media were truly concerned about protecting children, wouldn't they be hot on the trail of this widespread abuse, exposing administrative cover-ups?

If the Church-bashers could tell me why they aren't demonizing the teachers as well as priests, I am all ears. It simply doesn't make sense to me, unless this is simply about, well, demonizing the Church. Because, frankly, some of the outrage begins to ring a bit hollow.

By the way, I love teachers!!! Some of my closest friends and relatives are teachers, and they are stellar, dedicated professionals. Please don't think I am trashing a profession. Teachers deserve our respect and support, and I am in no way suggesting that we smear all teachers because of the crimes of a few. Reasonable people understand that. But, um... ditto for priests, right?

Second: Don't blame celibacy. Please.

Again, I am confused. If celibacy makes for sickos (which I have heard a thousand times), then why aren't the Church-bashers railing against celibate Buddhist monks? If the answer is, "Because Buddhist monks don't molest children!" then I would say that proves my point. For to insist that celibacy creates child molesters, one must (if one has any integrity) account for the Buddhist monks.

But in fact, many of the same folks crying that celibacy for priests is "unnatural" and "impossible" are great admirers of celibate Buddhist monks, whom they see as "spiritually enlightened." Go figure.

And how to account for fellow Christians who find priestly celibacy to be creepy, sick, unnatural or troubling? That one really baffles me. The word "celibate" actually means "unmarried." And Christianity teaches that unmarried people are not to have sex. That means unmarried teens, single young adults, the never-marrieds, widows and widowers, divorced, etc. Are those categories of people, if they are living as Christ teaches (i.e. no sex), sick and twisted? Are they sexually deviant due to their singleness? If not, why not?

Bottom Line: There are reasons why a tiny percentage of Catholic priests have violated those in their charge, but being celibate is not one of them.

More thoughts on the Church sex scandal in the next post....